Georgia football: the best gifts of the last 25 years

Wide receiver Hines Ward
Wide receiver Hines Ward /
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Tra Battle (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Tra Battle (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images) /

2006: Auburn throws game away with four interceptions

2006 was not a year to be proud of by November 11. After winning the SEC Championship a year prior, injuries and inexperience at quarterback led to embarrassing losses to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Florida Gators also beat Georgia, but at least the Dawgs showed some pride by not letting the dominant Gators open up their lead in the second half. By game 11, Georgia’s record was 6-4. terrible compared to the previous year.

By that same day, Auburn’s season was the complete opposite. Their only setback was a loss to Arkansas. They had defeated Florida and LSU earlier in the year. 10 games through the 2006 season, Auburn was 9-1 and ranked no. 5 in the BCS and they still had a National Championship on their minds.

Georgia was just another team for their defense to crush. Outside of the 27 points the Razorbacks hung on the Tigers, Auburn hadn’t allowed more than 20 points all year. The Tigers run game and mistake-free passing game were going to provide enough support to ensure the Auburn victory.

However, Auburn, and their quarterback Brandon Cox weren’t mistake free that day. After watching Matthew Stafford, Kregg Lumpkin and A.J. Bryant march down field for seven points in just under six minutes to start the game, things went from bad to worse for the Tigers. On Auburn’s first play of the game, Georgia sacked Cox. It was the first time Auburn’s line allowed a sack in four weeks. They allowed another sack on their second drive.

But the disaster really began on a free play at the end of the first quarter. On an untimed down. Cox threw an interception to Tra Battle, who returned the ball past midfield. The Bulldogs got three points out of the turnover and extended the lead to 10-0. Though that was far from the last gift Cox would give the Dawgs that day.

Before Cox could make any more mistakes, Stafford began living up to the hype. He tossed a few impressive passes before hitting Kenneth Harris on a line-drive pass. Harris fell at the one-yard-line. Brannan Southerland scored on the next play to give Georgia 17-0 lead. On Auburn’s next drive, Cox tossed a pair of ill advised passes to bring up a third-and-10 situation. The Tigers continued to rely on him and Battle made them pay again. This time, he intercepted the pass and ran it back 30 yards to the end zone, extending Georgia’s lead to 24-0 in the process.

After that pic, Cox’s stats were one completion on six attempts for two interceptions and negative-three yards. Auburn’s offense improved, but Cox didn’t. Arun-heavy drive produced a touchdown for Auburn, but Cox threw Battle a school-record-tying third interception of the game. Stafford and Lumpkin connected on a screen pass for a 16-yard-touchdown. Georgia led 30-6 at halftime.

Cox threw one more interception and Georgia cruised the rest of the way for a 37-16 upset win. Georgia ended the year with two more upset wins to finish with a respectable 9-4 record. Auburn’s National Championship dreams ended, and the Tommy Tuberville era began to end that night.

Next. Greatest players of the Mark Richt era. dark

What gifts can you think of? Any turnover, favorable call or anything else that could qualify as a gift? Georgia football has certainly received a lot of them over the years. Feel free to comment your favorites in the comments or on Twitter.